Portal "Cross Border E-archive" offers online viewing of the 19th century documents from the archives of Estonia, Latvia and Russia.

These documents pertain to the entire territory of the Republic of Estonia, city of Riga, Vidzeme and Latgale regions in the Republic of Latvia, and also to the city of St. Petersburg, Pskov and Leningrad regions in the Russian Federation.

Portal contains the historical documents available for readers in 4 collections:

Portal was created as a part of the project "Cross Border E-archive" implemented by the Culture Information Systems Centre from 2012 to 2014 within the Cross Border Cooperation program for Estonia, Latvia and Russia from 2007 to 2013 within the framework of European Neighbourhood and Partnership instrument in cooperation with the partners – society "Ideju Forums", the National Archives of Latvia, the National Archives of Estonia and St. Petersburg Information and Analytical Centre as well as involving the associated partner – Archival Committee of St. Petersburg.

The objective of portal "Cross Border" is to maintain the historical and cultural heritage of transborder territory accumulated in the archives of Estonia, Latvia and Russia as well as to provide the residents of the three countries with free access to this heritage. Important information related to Estonia, Latvia and Russia was selected and new collections of digital materials were created in the course of the project. Information which is freely available to all resident groups is used in compiling the collections therefore the digital collections in portal will be available for the residents of the involved countries as well as other interested parties.


Student files

Portal contains the student files of the higher education establishments in St. Petersburg, Riga and Tartu from the 19th century.

Back then students traditionally chose to study the humanities at the University of Tarty in Estonia while art was studied in various educational institutions of art and music in St. Petersburg but engineering and agriculture were studied at Riga Polytechnical Institute. Young students from nearly all Russian gubernias and many foreign countries studied in these educational establishments. Riga Polytechnical Institute (nowadays – Riga Technical University) was opened in the middle of the 19th century as the first integrated technical institution of higher education in the Russian Empire. The University of Tartu is the oldest higher education establishment in the transborder territory of Estonia, Latvia and Russia. It played crucial role in preparing specialists and high-ranking officers of the Russian Empire in various scientific disciplines until 1918.

The collection offers: 
  • Student and teaching staff files of Riga Polytechnical Institute from 1862 to 1919.
  • Student files of the University of Tartu from 1890s. A special section is dedicated to the studies and work of merited and well-known alumni who later became important social, political and cultural figures. Collection also contains the personal files of rectors, remarkable teachers and professors.
  • Student and teaching staff files of Imperator's Petrograd (St. Petersburg) University from 1870 to 1916.
  • Student and teaching staff files of Petrograd Conservatory of the Imperial Russian Musical Society from 1862 to 1917.
  • Student and teaching staff files of Petrograd Polytechnical Institute of the Emperor Peter the Great from 1900 to 1918.
  • Student files of Academy of Art of the MIDV (Ministerstvo Imperatorskogo Dvora or Ministry of the Imperial Court) from 1757 to 1916.
  • Student files of Central School of Technical Drawing of Baron Alexander von Stieglitz from 1871 to 1927.

Collection contains variety of documents including student certificates, extracts from the records of birth, CVs, photos, passports, exam results as well as diplomas and documents concerning the professional and scientific activities.



Collection features more than 100 printed maps and manuscript maps reflecting most accurately the area and populated areas of transborder territory where Estonians, Latvians and Russians co-existed. Documents also depict roads connecting these populated areas.

The National Archives of Estonia contains approximately 90 road and railway maps, among them the postal route plans, town maps of Russian Empire, including also the maps of Tartu, Riga and St. Petersburg and congregation and parish maps of transborder territory. The National Archives of Latvia has included 15 maps of the 19th century in this collection, namely the administrative maps of Livland, Estland and Courland gubernia as well as road and post station plans. Livland map with town plans of Valmiera, Limbaži, Sloka, Cēsis, Valka, Rīga, Tartu, Veru, Pärnu, Viljandi and Kuressaare.

Availability of maps online makes it possible for researchers to specify the birthplaces of their ancestors, names of places, administrative affiliation and to help locating these places nowadays.


Church books

Church books are one of the fundamental documents in studying genealogy; church books contain records on two inevitable civil statuses of a human life, namely record of birth (in church book it is shown together with the first religious ritual – baptism) and record of death. In majority of cases there was at least one more civil status record – about marriage.

Many nationalities and languages were represented in the cities and towns of transborder territory of the 19th and the 20th century. Collection features the church books providing information about the congregation members of the respective neighbouring countries living in the territory of the given country.

Tartu congregation church books containing the data on the students and faculty of the University of Tartu as well as Latvian and Russian inhabitants of the city are included in the collection by the National Archives of Estonia. There was also a Latvian congregation under the St. John congregation and a separate Orthodox (Uspenski) Cathedral for Russian inhabitants.

Many Russians who were born in Narva and its neighbourhood as well as in other gubernias of the Empire were registered in the church books of Narva Orthodox congregations. Several churches (Znamenja, Holy Dormition, St. Nicholas) are now located in the Ivangorod, the territory of Russia. Collection also contains church books from St. Nicholas Latvian congregation in Pärnu and congregation of border town Valga.

Church books from the Latvian Orthodox churches, Riga Grebenščikova Old-Believers and Latvian Evangelical Lutheran parishes, mostly located in the border area, i.e. the Valka district, were included in the collection by the National Archives of Latvia.


Other documents

Collection contains list of students of Riga Polytechnical Institute and the University of Tartu.

The National Archives of Estonia offers list of students from 1802 to 1918 providing an extensive overview of persons studying in the University of Tartu during the mentioned period. List of students contain structured data on each matriculated student. The basic information shows the number of matriculation, the name of student, parent names, time and place of birth, the residence of parents, time of matriculation and faculty. Portal visitors can easily search for the necessary student or create a data set, including such specifications as average age and social status of students.

Latvian State Historical Archives offer 12 list of students of Riga Polytechnical Institute containing information about all students of the institute.